Just a few days before Labor Day Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, described the stagnation of the U.S. labor market as a "grave concern." He recognized that the rate of improvement in the labor market has been "painfully slow."
The statement was made at a meeting organized annually by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas, at Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole, Wyo. Every year, a select group of students and practitioners meet there to discuss the situation and prospects of the U.S. economy and the head of the central bank presents a statement on monetary policy.
This year's statement by the head of the Federal Reserve was widely anticipated because U.S. economic growth again slowed down during the first semester of the year. Therefore, the expectation was that the central bank would announce the adoption of additional measures to support the economic recovery.
However, Bernanke only confirmed the conclusion, stated at the end of the last meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, that additional measures will be adopted as needed.
Two scheduled meetings of the committee remain before the November elections, on Sept. 12-13 and Oct. 23-24. Even if additional measures are adopted at these meetings, the projection is that unemployment will remain at around 8 percent until the end of the year.
In recent elections, an incumbent has never been reelected with such a high unemployment rate.
Isaac Cohen is an international analyst and consultant, a commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, and a former director, UNECLAC Washington Office.
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